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Worst, best times to be on the road for Thanksgiving

We know there's going to be some bad traffic on Thanksgiving, but when are the worst and times to go? (WTOP/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON — Two weeks until Thanksgiving turkey, togetherness — and terrible traffic.

The annual celebration of the harvest and abundance of food we share with friends and family traditionally comes with an overabundance of cars on local roadways and AAA mid-Atlantic warns more people will travel this Thanksgiving than have since 2005.

AAA is predicting when and where congestion will be the worst: Nov. 20, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving between the hours of 5 p.m. and 7 p.m., on the Inner Loop of Interstate 495.

“The last place you will want to be during those hours is on the Capital Beltway, clockwise,” said John Townsend, of AAA mid-Atlantic.

Townsend said on most days, through-travelers along the I-95 corridor account for 30 to 40 percent of Beltway traffic.

However, on Nov. 20, the influx of families on their way to holiday gatherings will result in evening commutes in the capital region lasting more than twice as long as usual.

The heavy traffic isn’t just in the Washington region. AAA said 54 million Americans will travel during the Thanksgiving holiday period.

“Consumers have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season: higher wages, more disposable income and rising levels of household wealth,” said Bill Sutherland, AAA Travel senior vice president, in a statement.

Motorists can expect to pay the highest Thanksgiving gas prices in four years, with a national average of $2.79 per gallon — 31 cents more than a year ago.

According to AAA, the best days to travel will be on Thanksgiving Day, Friday or Saturday.


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